2009 attack on the Dutch royal family

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Attack on Dutch royal family
Koninginnedag 2009 locatie incident 1.svg
Location in Apeldoorn of the incident on Queen's Day 2009
LocationApeldoorn, Netherlands
Coordinates52°13′40.18″N 5°56′45.79″E / 52.2278278°N 5.9460528°E / 52.2278278; 5.9460528
Date30 April 2009 (2009-04-30) (Dutch National holiday)
11:50 (UTC+2)
Attack type
Vehicle ramming attack
WeaponsSuzuki Swift
Deaths8 (including the attacker)[1]
Non-fatal injuries
PerpetratorKarst Roeland Tates[2]

The 2009 attack on the Dutch royal family occurred on 30 April at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, when a man drove his car at high speed into a parade which included Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander and other members of the royal family. The occasion of the attack was the Dutch national holiday of Koninginnedag (or Queen's Day).[3][4]

The vehicle deliberately drove through people lining the street watching the parade, resulting in eight deaths and ten injuries.[1][5][6][7] It missed the royal family and crashed into a monument at the side of the road. No members of the royal family were harmed. It was the first attack on the Dutch royal family in modern times.[8][a]

The driver, identified as 38-year-old Dutch national Karst Roeland Tates, was attended to by emergency service workers of the fire brigade and police, taken into custody and transported to the hospital for treatment.[10] He died the day after the incident, the seventh person to succumb to injuries suffered during the attack.[11] A 46-year-old woman died from her injuries days later, on 8 May, bringing the total number of deaths to eight.[1]

Location of the attack[edit]

Layout of the incident. Red is the path of the car, orange the path of the coach carrying the royal family. The car crashed through the crowd at the marker and came to rest against monument De Naald
The mortally injured Karst Tates still sitting in his car after the attack, with the royal bus in the background. This image by Pim Ras won an award as the best Dutch news photo of the year 2009.

At around 11:50 am, just before an open-top bus carrying the Dutch royal family made its last turn towards the palace of Het Loo in Apeldoorn, a black older-model Suzuki Swift crashed through the onlookers, just missing the bus carrying the royal family members, and slammed into De Naald, an obelisk-shaped Royal monument.[12] Seconds after the attack Red Cross and Police first responders were on site to provide the basic life saving treatments to the 17 victims, who were all taken to nearby hospitals. After the crash, the vehicle was examined by the anti-terrorist department and local police.

The attack and search were shown on live TV.[13] Members of the Dutch royal family who were waving at the crowds gathered were shown standing up to look over at the crashed car, visibly shocked and gasping with their hands over their mouths.


Karst Roeland Tates
A young African man with dark skin, short black hair, and brown eyes, wearing a white T-shirt.
6 maart 1971 The mortally injured Karst Tates still sitting in his car after the attack, with the royal bus in the background
Born (1971-03-06) March 6, 1971 (age 47)
Died (2009-05-01) May 1, 2009 (age 9)

Karst Roeland Tates (6 March 1971[10] – 1 May 2009[14]), a 38-year-old Dutchman, was identified as the driver of the car. After the attack, he was rescued by the fire department and transferred to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries.[12] Tates was from Huissen, a small town in the eastern Netherlands, and had no criminal record.[15][16] Police said he confessed in his car whilst laying bleeding that he intended to hit the royal family.[17]

Tates died in the early morning of 1 May of brain injuries sustained in the crash.[18][19] An autopsy was performed; no traces of alcohol were found in his blood.[20]

Tates' motive remains unclear. He had called his mother to congratulate her on her birthday on the day before the attack and said he was looking forward to her birthday party on 3 May. He left no indication he was planning anything.[21] Tates' parents describe him as kind and attentive, and although there had been periods of financial trouble in his past, he had recently found work.[21] According to his parents, Tates held no ill will towards the royal family and had described the Queen as a "stabilizing force".[21]

However, other reports revealed that Tates "had embarked on a mission of vengeance against society after losing his job as a night-shift security guard" earlier in the year, and had been facing eviction from his house. He told a neighbour he was depressed and had been out of contact with family for months.[22]

The official investigation established that the attack was premeditated but not well prepared. The report said the people killed were probably innocent bystanders who were watching the parade.[23] Tates did not intend to kill many people; he had scouted the situation beforehand but when he returned for his assault the situation had changed and people were standing in a previously cordoned-off street.

The public prosecutor assumed Tates acted alone and concluded that his actions would never be totally explained.[24]


A few hours after the attack Queen Beatrix addressed the nation in an emotional video message.[25]

What started out as a beautiful day has ended in a terrible tragedy that has shocked all of us. People who were standing nearby, who saw it happen on television, all those who witnessed it, must have been watching in astonishment and disbelief. We [the royal family] are speechless that something so terrible could have happened. My family, myself, and, I think, every person in the country feels for the victims, their families and friends, and all who have been affected by this incident.

— Queen Beatrix[25][26]

At a press conference that afternoon police reported that Tates, who was still conscious but severely injured after the accident, had told police that it was a deliberate act aimed at the royal family.[12][27] He had no prior history of psychological problems and there are no indications that any sort of terrorist group was involved.[12][27] Initial rumours that the car was rigged with explosives were later denied by the police.[6]

Cancelled events[edit]

Public gathering on the central market square during memorial service of 8 May 2009
Monument remembering the seven victims, by glass artist Menno Jonker [nl]; unveiled 29 April 2010

Following the attack, at 12:15 pm local time, it was announced that all planned celebrations in Apeldoorn were cancelled. Later that day, many other events across the Netherlands were also cancelled, shortened or toned down significantly – including all activities in Rotterdam and many events in Amsterdam.[28][29]

As the news of the attack spread, many people spontaneously lowered the national flag to half-staff[30] (the normal flag instruction on Queen's Day is to fly the flag, with orange banner, at full-staff, and many people follow this instruction). Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced the order to lower all flags on government buildings to half-staff.[31]

Initially, it was feared that the supposed "act of madness by a lone attacker" endangered the long-held yearly tradition with the royal family's mingling with the Dutch people on Queen's Day.[32]

Memorial service[edit]

On 8 May, a memorial service was held in the Orpheus theatre in Apeldoorn, with speeches by Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende and mayor of Apeldoorn Fred de Graaf. It was attended by the Queen, the Prince of Orange, Princess Máxima, Princess Margriet and Pieter van Vollenhoven as well as 1,200 guests. Some 5,000 people watched the ceremony on screens placed outside on Apeldoorn's central market square[33] and millions more on live television. Just hours after the memorial, it was announced that after being in critical condition for over a week, an eighth person had died of injuries sustained in the attack.[1]


On 29 April 2010, Queen Beatrix and Mayor De Graaf unveiled a monument for the seven victims, near the location of the attack.[34] The work by artist Menno Jonker [nl] resembles a box containing seven white balloons among several blue balloons, representing vulnerability, festivity and mourning.[34]

2010 bomb panic[edit]

Just over a year after the attack, on 4 May 2010, during Remembrance of the Dead ceremony on Dam Square in Amsterdam attended by Queen Beatrix, a 39-year-old man dressed as an Orthodox Jew and carrying a suitcase shouted 'bomb!' during a two-minute silence. This was followed by the yell of a woman and a falling security fence, which according to witnesses sounded like a gun shot. It sparked panic amongst the crowd of 20,000, causing a stampede that injured 87 people. Dozens fell on the ground and some broke bones as a result.[35] The man, who was identified as just Adam and nicknamed in the media as the Damschreeuwer (meaning Dam Screamer) or 'The Rabbi', was thought to be high on alcohol at the time, according to his lawyer.[36][37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Two other attempts had been planned in "modern times" – an abduction attempt by soldiers of the German 22nd Airlanding Division in May 1940 was aborted when their planes crashed on landing [9] and there was an attempt to kidnap Queen Juliana by Moluccans in 1975.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Drama Apeldoorn eist achtste leven". NL: NU. 9 May 2009. Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2009.
  2. ^ van der Koor, Robin (30 April 2009). "Vijfde dode in Apeldoorn; dader in levensgevaar". NL: Elsevier. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  3. ^ "Car ploughs into Queen's Day parade". NL: NRC. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  4. ^ Simons, Marlise (30 April 2009). "Car Plows Into Crowd Celebrating Dutch Queen". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Queen's Day attack death toll rises to eight". NL: NRC. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Medewerker marechaussee in ziekenhuis overleden". De Volkskrant. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  7. ^ "Europe | Dutch parade attack driver dies". BBC News. 1 May 2009. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Ruwbeeld Apeldoorn". News (broadcast). RTL. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  9. ^ Fall Gelb 1940 (2), Doug Dildy, Bloomsday Publishing, 2015
  10. ^ a b "Kondagnieuw", Genstijl (in Dutch), NL, 2009-04-30.
  11. ^ "Royal attack: death toll reaches seven". Dutch News. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2009.
  12. ^ a b c d "Car crash into Dutch Queen parade". BBC. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  13. ^ "Vier doden bij viering Koninginnedag". NOS. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  14. ^ "Dader aanslag overleden in Deventer", De Stentor (in Dutch), Netherlands, 1 May 2009.
  15. ^ "Vijde dode in drama Apeldoorn". Trouw (article) (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  16. ^ "A nice quiet fellow". NL: NRC. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  17. ^ https://www.scotsman.com/news/mystery-surrounds-dutch-royals-attack-1-773013
  18. ^ "Dader aanslag Apeldoorn overleden". ANP. NL: NU. 1 May 2009. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  19. ^ "Dutch parade attack driver dies". BBC. UK. 1 May 2009. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  20. ^ nu.nl. "Verdachte overleden aan hersenletsel (Suspect died of brain injury)". Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  21. ^ a b c nu.nl. "Motief Karst T. voor zijn ouders ook een raadsel (Karst T.'s motive also a mystery to his parents)". Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  22. ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/5258086/Man-who-attacked-Dutch-royals-shaved-his-hair-like-Robert-de-Niro-in-Taxi-Driver.html
  23. ^ "Queen's Day attack: premeditated, but ill-prepared". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  24. ^ "Queen's Day killer's motives may remain a mystery". Nrc.nl. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  25. ^ a b "Koningin Beatrix: de familie is sprakeloos". NOS.nl. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  26. ^ "'Sprakeloos over zoiets vreselijks'". De Volkskrant. 1 May 2009. p. 2.
  27. ^ a b NOS. "Koninklijke familie was doelwit (The Royal Family was the target) (dutch)". Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  28. ^ Simons, Marlise (30 April 2009). "Car Plows Into Crowd Celebrating Dutch Queen". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  29. ^ "Meeste steden zetten festiviteiten voort". Nu.nl. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  30. ^ "Vlaggen halfstok na aanslag in Apeldoorn". sallandcentraal.nl. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  31. ^ "Vlaggen halfstok na aanslag in Apeldoorn". Reformatorisch Dagblad. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  32. ^ "Will Queen's Day ever be the same again?". NRC Handelsblad. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  33. ^ telegraaf.nl. "'Nederland is in zijn ziel geraakt'" [Netherlands has been hit in its soul]. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  34. ^ a b nu.nl. "Apeldoorn staat stil bij drama Koninginnedag". Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  35. ^ https://www.dw.com/en/dutch-police-detain-man-over-royal-ceremony-bomb-panic/a-5540270
  36. ^ http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/863-screamer-who-caused-amsterdam-panic-stampede-apologizes
  37. ^ http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/2236-man-who-caused-panic-stampede-in-amsterdam-gets-higher-sentence-on-appeal

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